Baynanza Cleanup Day for a healthier Biscayne Bay

Around 300 people gathered on Saturday morning at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, one of the 25 cleanup sites that make up Baynanza, to help clean up the bay.

Baynanza is an annual celebration of Biscayne Bay and its significance as one of South Florida’s most important ecological systems. April 13 marked the 37th anniversary of the celebration.

“It’s truly a community effort that’s really the only way we can preserve our natural resources,” said Director Lee Hefty of the county’s Division of Environmental Resources Management.

The event began with a presentation by speakers including Joel Hoffman, Vizcaya’s executive director; Wendy Wolf, Vizcaya’s deputy director of Learning and Community Engagement, and Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez.

“Today Baynanza is one special day in the year that we really mobilize and get people out throughout the community to be thinking about the health of the bay, but at Vizcaya this is something that we are doing year-round,” said Wolf.

Vizcaya partnered with the University of Miami to study how trash moves through the bay.

Wolf asked the volunteers to be on the lookout for the biodegradable drift cards, which were released into Biscayne Bay at different locations as part of an experiment to track how tides move debris.

“If we know where the trash starts, maybe we can stop it at the source,” she said.

At around 9:40 a.m. Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins and Suarez launched the cleanup event by dispatching the volunteers with sunscreen, gloves and trash bags.

“To every one of you please remember this day, mark it in your memory, it’s the day that you contributed your labor and your effort to making this environment [and] this gorgeous bay better,” said Suarez.

Among the trash picked up was a bucket, a purple pool noodle and candy wrappers.

“Several objects were quite large and could not be put into bags, [there was] a huge tractor tire, a 50-gallon drum and some piece of bolted-together heavy wooden framework,” said Vizcaya Landscape Manager Jeffrey Summers.

Elected officials, private citizens, local businesses, families, artists and scientists decided to spend their morning helping improve the health of Miami-Dade ecosystems.

“It is my birthday today and I wanted to do something to help the planet,” said Natalia Quiroz.

Summers said events like these are necessary because they raise environmental awareness. He added that for a lot of people Baynanza is the only interaction they have with this matter.

“It’s great having people come out on a Saturday and doing that, it just leads to a healthier mentality,” he said.

After almost an hour of cleaning up trash, the event concluded with a performance by the Fantasy Theater Factory.

“I personally threw away over 30 sizable bags and I know my colleagues Marco and Anthony likewise drove golf carts filled with bags,” said Summers. “We filled two regular sized dumpsters with all the bags we got.”

Nayeli Membreno is a journalism and communication major with a minor in English. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, but with Argentinian roots, she brings a multicultural perspective to work. She is passionate about storytelling and enjoys keeping people informed through her writing. Her goal is to share stories, uncover the truth, and give a voice to those who need to be heard.